Nottingham Forest fans can be forgiven for tempering any optimism with a great degree of caution. After all, recent history suggests that a crisis is never far away.
However, there are genuine signs of change at the City Ground this season with Forest sitting sixth after five games played.
Style of play
With Nottingham Forest bouncing from one style to the next in recent years thanks to the constant influx of managers at the City Ground, it’s remarkable that Mark Warburton has managed to instil his trademark philosophy so quickly.
The former Brentford coach is renowned for his passing football and, while Rangers supporters didn’t exactly see Warburton’s tactics as the best thing since sliced bread, the 54-year-old has already won over a fanbase that appreciates the ‘beautiful game’ as much as any.
Only three teams have scored more than Forest’s eight league goals so far this season and credit must go to Warburton for getting the best outof Forest's creative players.
Recruiting the right men – on and off the field
With the benefit of hindsight, it is perhaps no surprise that Director of Football Pedro Pereira bid farewell to Forest just over a month after the transfer window closed. After all, his reputation was not helped by a series of disastrous foreign imports, the likes of Vladimir Stojkovic, Nicolai Dumitru and Lica ranging from the abysmal to the anonymous.
However, Forest have gone from targeting cheap, imported unknowns to talented, hungry youngsters and proven Championship experience since esteemed talentspotter Frank McParland arrived alongside his former Rangers and Brentford colleague Warburton.
That Forest were able to land two of Scotland’s most exciting talents, Barrie McKay (above) and Jason Cummings, for under £2 million is remarkable in today’s market while Daryl Murphy, Liam Bridcutt and Kieran Dowell have immediately enhanced the squad.
Big Ben stays
Forest supporters had a number of reasons to dislike much-maligned former owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi but his penchant for cashing in on the club’s homegrown assets was right up there at the top. Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles and Oliver Burke all departed the City Ground after the Kuwaiti businessman claimed they were certain to remain in the East Midlands.
Therefore, Forest supporters were right to be concerned that Ben Brereton, arguably the most talented of the lot, would follow in their footsteps amid reports of Premier League interest.
However, once Evangelos Marinakis replaced Al-Hasawi at the helm this summer, one of the club’s first acts was to tie down the 18-year-old striker to a new four-year contract – a sign that the short-termism that damaged the club in recent years is over.
Suddenly, the future looks bright again at the City Ground.